News Articles

Wall Street Journal article draws Land’s praise except for 1 quote

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–While an article in the Aug. 13 Wall Street Journal provided a good overview of public policy activity by Americans of several faiths, Richard Land said it conveyed an erroneous impression in its recounting of a quote attributed to him.

The news report, which dealt with clergy who regularly consult with President George W. Bush and his challenger for the White House, John Kerry, called Land a “high-profile advocate for Southern Baptists in Washington” and noted the president of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission was a participant in a weekly conference call between White House operatives and “conservative Christian leaders.”

So far so good, Land said, commenting on the story titled, “All the candidates’ clergy.”

“Elizabeth Bernstein’s mostly superb article on religious involvement in public policy issues is a classic example that even when people are trying really hard to get things right, as I believe Ms. Bernstein was, mistakes happen,” Land continued. “One of the quotes attributed to me is such a mistake,” he added.

In a paragraph discussing the ERLC’s iVoteValues.com initiative, an effort to register and educate voters on the concept of values-based voting, the article quoted Land as saying, “The Democrats may not like it, but we’re serious as a heart attack.”

That’s not exactly what he recalls saying, Land said.

“I am almost positive that I said ‘liberals,’ not ‘Democrats,’ and I am certain that the quote was in an entirely different context than the iVoteValues.com campaign,” Land told Baptist Press Aug. 13.

He said Bernstein interviewed him in July while he was in Washington, D.C., as part of the faculty of the Student Leadership University, an intense training program for evangelical middle and high school students. The SLU’s website says the program helps students “discern between the agenda of tolerance and the absolute truths found in the Word of God and empowering students to defend the faith with certainty and grace with the understanding of a Christian worldview.” Jay Strack is the founder and president of the international organization that was established in 1994.

Land said Bernstein was at the SLU session at which he spoke and was impressed with the number and quality of the 500 students in attendance.

“I explained to her that the effort by a significant number of organizations to turn this culture around was not a fly-by-night or haphazard operation, but a long, sustained campaign and that whether or not the ‘liberals’ — or [the disputed terminology] ‘Democrats’ — liked it, we’re as serious as a heart attack,” Land said, noting that his comment had nothing to do with the groundbreaking voter registration and voter awareness initiative.

All in all, Land said he was pleased with The Wall Street Journal piece, giving Bernstein kudos for focusing “not just on conservative public policy activity but also on the activity by left-wing figures as well.”

Other high-profile religious leaders cited in The Journal article were James Forbes Jr., senior minister of Riverside Church in New York; Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals and senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs; Richard John Neuhaus, parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception Church in New York; Imam Hassan Qazwini, spiritual leader of the Islamic Center of America in Detroit; Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; and Jim Wallis of the Call to Renewal and editor of Sojourners.

The article noted the iVoteValues.com effort featured a “red-white-and-blue 18-wheeler [that] stops at Southern Baptist churches, Wal-Marts and malls, and contains computer stations where people can register to vote and learn about ‘Christian values.’”

Land said the mobile voter registration rig and information center continues to crisscross the country, bringing the message of values-based voting to small communities and big cities alike. Individuals can pick up voter registration materials at the truck, Land said, but they can’t actually register to vote on board. Individuals staff the events where the truck visits to assist individuals who want to register to vote, he noted.

The iVoteValues.com truck, website and other resources are completely nonpartisan, Land emphasized. The effort is focused on Americans voting their values, convictions and beliefs, and not a particular party, he said.

“All Americans have a right and an obligation to be involved in our nation’s political process,” Land said. “That’s the message of the iVoteValues.com effort.”

    About the Author

  • Dwayne Hastings